Opening of the exhibition of the Icelandic performing artist Ragnar Kjartansson on 5 May 2011, at 7 p.m., at the Bawag Contemporary Vienna
Even if it does not look like it, the exhibition Take me here by the Dishwasher is a portrait. Ragnar Kjartansson, who describes himself as a hopeless romantic, is an Icelandic artist who mainly works in the fields of performance, theater, and music. Yet he is also into more traditional media such as painting, drawing, and video. Cultural history and myth, rituals, and a range of identities, grief, happiness, beauty, horror, drama, humor – such are the ingredients of an oeuvre for whose existence there is only one reason: a charismatic person’s impulse to entertain.
Even the conception of the artist lies in a mist of reality and fiction. Kjartansson, who was born into a family of theater people, insinuates to have been sired on the set of Iceland’s first feature film. Morðsaga (Reynir Oddsson, 1977) featured his mother, Guðrún Ásmundsdóttir, as a lonely housewife, while his father, Kjartan Ragnarsson, played the plumber she calls in her dreams to repair the dishwasher. Ragnar was actually sired on the set in the month in which the love scene was shot. Take me here by the Dishwasher shows the decisive moment in a loop.
Ragnar Kjartansson has been interested in the role model of the artist from the very beginnings of his fast-moving career. His works may be seen as ongoing assessments of the status of the artist, his work, and the public. Who am I, where am I, what am I doing here, what has happened before I came here? The questions a method actor has to ask himself according to Lee Strasberg also seem to inform the technique of the exhibitionist artist who produces props for tableaux vivants and role plays that supply parts of his personal identity puzzle – a portrait of the artist as a painter of nocturnal seascapes, an opera singer in a rococo theater, and a lonesome cowboy with guitar in the Rocky Mountains.
Performance: daily 4–7 p.m. (music: Kjartan Sveinsson)
Location: Bawag Contemporary, Franz-Josefs-Kai 3, 1010 Vienna
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